Electricity reduces HIV-1 infectivity in Double Blind Study


William D. Lyman, Irwin R.Merkatz

William C. Hatch and Steven C. Kaali

Departments of Pathology,

and Obstetrics & Gynecology

Albert Einstein. College of Medicine


In this report, we present the results of double-blinded studies on the use of direct electric current to alter the infectivity o£ HIV-1 for susceptible cells in vitro. Two lymphoblastoid cell lines (H9 and CEM-SS) were exposed to aliquots of the RT strain of HIV-1 treated with direct current. Results of these studies show that virus treated with currents from 50 to 100 microamperes (ìA) has a significantly reduced infectivity for susceptible cells.

These experimental currents were equal to 3.85 and 7.7.ìÁ/mm2 current densities respectively. The reduction of infectivity was dependent upon, the total electric charge (ìA x min) passing through the chamber to which the virus was exposed. Viral infectivity was determined by two independent measures: a syncytium-formation assay which can be used to quantify the production of infectious particles; and. a reverse transcriptase assay which is an index of viral protein production. Additional experiments demonstrated that the currents employed were biocompatible. Uninfected H9 cells were exposed to the same conditions used for the viral aliquots.

There was no significant change in the percentage of viable uninfected cells exposed to any of the currents tested. Therefore, because biocompatible direct electric current attenuates the infectivity of cell-free virus, this treatment may allow development of new strategies to prevent transmission of HIV-1 through either treating the general blood supply or developing alternative barrier contraceptive devices. Additionally, biocompatible electric. current may be applicable for the direct treatment of AIDS patients by utilizing either extracorporeal systems or self contained indwelling electrodes. Lastly, because the virus is being attenuated, electric current may also render treated HIV-1 suitable for vaccine development.

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